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Complex Doesn’t Always Mean Complicated: 4 Best Practices to Turn B2B Communication Into Exciting Content

Monday, September 18th, 2017

September is here and our studio will soon be celebrating it’s fourth year in business! Since our beginnings, developments in digital marketing have been happening faster than ever and we have learnt a lot on the journey.

The most important lesson of all? Visual storytelling is the most relevant and effective marketing solution to communicating complex ideas.

Applying this lesson to a B2B context, a few months ago, Nucco Brain collaborated with the agency Mindshare, to design a campaign for HSBC’s new China’s Belt & Road Initiative. This ambitious multi-faceted strategy aims to boost the flow of trade, capital, and services between China and the rest of the world. Involving over 65 countries, HSBC’s campaign targeted an international audience of stakeholders and business partners. Our studio was asked to create a video to explain the strategy in all its complex features:

Using this campaign as a case study, and to celebrate our four years in business, here are Nucco Brain’s 4 best practices to turn any B2B communication campaign into exciting content everyone will want to watch:

1) Always tell a story your audience can relate to…

The main challenge with this project was to deliver a coherent outline of China’s Belt & Road Initiative to a multicultural audience with different business customs. To ensure everyone could understand, we chose to open the video by making a parallel between the new initiative and the ancient silk road, which, as the video says, “everyone knows about”. Just like the new China’s Belt & Road: “Its routes forged paths between east and west creating international connections that helped shape the development of the world”.

2) Visualise data…

Our team’s approach with facts and data is to transform it from complex and dull into simple and engaging content using visual storytelling. The video we created for HSBC required an explanation of the opportunities and risks associated with the Belt & Road Initiative as well as features of China’s currency, the Renminbi, to businesses unfamiliar with the country’s economy. Our team worked with HSBC in order to translate stats reports into engaging animated graphics. Woven into the silk road narrative, this approach enables the core information to transcend any language and cultural barriers.

3) Generate lead & provoke a response…

The ultimate aim of any campaign is to entice an audience to take a specific action; and this aim should be incorporated within the visual narrative approach. Brands no longer compete against each other but the entire media landscape, creating a unique visual style that will grab your audience’s attention and provoke a response is therefore important. Provoking a reaction also means engaging the audience enough that they will want to share the content online with their own networks.

With China’s Belt & Road, the objective was to explain the new initiative well enough to convince HSBC’s stakeholders to take part in it. This is clearly communicated with the call to action at the end of the video: “Take a step into the future of global economy”.

4) Measure successes to improve future campaigns…

Essentially, did the campaign reach its aim? What proportion of the targeted audience took the action desired? Did the campaign generate lead? Overall, HSBC’s China’s Belt & Road campaign was well received by its stakeholders. The success of this campaign has led HSBC to commission a second video for some of their other B2B activities.

Other case studies and insights from our experience with visual storytelling and B2B communication will be featured in our next blog posts. Meanwhile, if you would like to know more about producing online branded video content, have a look at Nucco Brain’s recipe for a successful branded content YouTube series.

Stefano Marrone & Alizée Musson

Managing Director & Marketing Executive

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Nucco Brain’s Recipe for a Successful Branded Content YouTube Series

Friday, September 8th, 2017

The Internet has changed the way people consume content. According to expert Nicolas Carr, writer of the book The Shallows, the Web is rewiring our brain – changing the way we think and remember in the process. One of the results is that our attention span is shorter, which is a challenge for brands reaching out to their audience. As highlighted in my previous article on why brands should become content publishers, many turn to online content marketing as a way to approach this challenge.

Recently, Nucco Brain has been collaborating with Innovate UK, the national agency that supports science and technology innovations, to produce different video formats for their YouTube Channel as part of their new digital content marketing strategy. One of these series, “Predictions”, has been particularly successful and our studio is currently working on releasing 8 new episodes throughout 2017. “Predictions” is a series of short 3 minutes videos explaining what daily life will be like in a few years.

The challenge brought to us by Innovate UK was to maximise the visibility and engagement of their YouTube channel.

Our solution? We believe that video views, engagement, and awareness grow exponentially, due to our focus on the following 3 steps recipe:

 

1) Research & Strategy

  • Know your audience: Who do you want to reach? What kind of content do they like? Where do they spend time online? With Innovate UK, we first focused on engaging with different sub-brands of the organisation by creating a specific video format for each targeted audience segment – taking into account the different needs of each.
  • Have a theme: What is your brand’s area of expertise? What themes related to it could be transformed into a concept for a video series? We decided to highlight Innovate UK’s expertise in sciences, innovation, and technology throughout “Predictions”. Remember, storytelling is key in engaging your target audience, and most people engage with either informative or entertaining content. Thorough research into a relevant theme will ensure that the content is both rich with information and tells an entertaining story.

 

2) Relevant Content Creation

  • Format is key: Apart from ensuring that the format fits the needs of the target audience, consistency in style is crucial. Ask yourself: how can I best illustrate my chosen theme in a way that is original and unique? With “Predictions” we chose to mix live footage interviews of Innovate UK’s futurologists with animated graphics of their future predictions. This combination resulted in a series of videos that provides both information by experts and an engaging visual universe.
  • Video length matters: Your audience is accustomed to viewing very short videos on YouTube; no longer than 1-5 minutes max. Keep in mind that not every format can fit every length – it is important to find the right pace that condenses information without overloading your audience..

 

3) Smart Distribution

  • Think Multichannel: Even though your video will be published on YouTube, all content created should be shareable on any other social media platforms. This means that all your brand’s’ social media platforms must be consistent in style so that the video’s style blends in.
  • Create an editorial calendar: Essentially, how often will the content be published? Unlike one off advertising campaigns aiming to attract as many potential customers through one action, content marketing is a continuous initiative over a long period of time. The aim is to get your target audience to follow your brand on a daily basis. Establishing an editorial calendar will leave time for your target audience to share previous content and recommend your channel.

For more examples of other video formats we have created, have a look at Innovate UK’s YouTube channel.

Stefano Marrone & Alizée Musson

Managing Director & Marketing Executive

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Why visual storytelling does corporate comms like a pro

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

For a company, general communication in the digital age can be tricky, and internal communication can be a real challenge, given the diversity of people working for it. Over formalized emails and meetings are just not enough anymore and can easily lead to a lack of engagement or misunderstanding of the key messages.

At Nucco Brain we help big and small companies telling their stories in the most effective way. Above brand storytelling, we specialise in ultra-effective corporate comms, both external and internal. We thought that sharing some insights about our corporate comms work of the last years could be useful.

When searching for the most powerful strategy to deliver a message, do always keep in mind the golden rule of storytelling: your audience wants to be both informed and engaged.

More and more brands are turning to the visual storytelling industry to tell their stories and rightly so since visual content keeps proving to be the simplest and most engaging way to send a message.

The lack of direct human interactions -voice, look, gestures- makes room for ambiguity; using visuals is one of the best ways to express the tone as well as the content.

Let’s take a look at a case study that we worked on recently to see how we applied visual storytelling to an internal change campaign.

Internal corporate comms case study: Rolls-Royce Engineering

Getting your employees up to speed with the latest technology, trends, and corporate guidelines is far from easy. Finding the right way to communicate important changes, such as a new training program, is essential for the company’s overall well-being.

We worked with Rolls-Royce Engineering to produce a video that aimed to inform employees about the company’s social media policy and to promote social media awareness in the work’s place. Quite a delicate topic to address, as it may sound like Rolls-Royce telling its staff what they should and should not post on their social channels. A message that could easily come across as invasive or even censoring.

We took this difficulty into account and realised a 3-minute video that explained why it’s so important to be mindful of any kind of activity on social media. We created Rollo, a stylised character that would generate empathy with all the employees of RR, no matter their geographic location. As a result, the explanatory video delivered Rolls Royce’s view on the subject to 15 countries and was complemented with supporting images on the company intranet and social media channels.

An explanatory video – among other equally powerful steps of a visual campaign – can provide employees with the safety and satisfaction in understanding where the company is headed and the importance of their involvement.

Find out more about how to facilitate better communication with your employees at http://www.nuccobrain.com/corpcoms/

Stefano Marrone

MD and Visual Storyteller @Nucco Brain

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5 Reasons Why Animation Is The Best Way To Campaign About Sensitive Topics – Nucco Brain for World Animal Protection case study

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Content creation and entertainment are inextricably linked. At the end of the day, people consume any kind of content for only two reasons: if it’s informative and if it’s entertaining. There are content topics, though, where the concept of “entertainment” needs to be handled carefully.

World Animal Protection challenged Nucco Brain to create a powerful visual story to help bring to life the plight of elephants in the tourism / entertainment industry for their latest campaign.

We had to ask ourselves:
How to tackle campaigns that revolve around a sensitive topic such as abuse of physical and psychological kind, humanitarian emergencies, dramatic medical conditions and many more of this particular kind?

We think that sharing some of the challenges we encountered on our journey to help WAP can give interesting insights and tools on how to work with delicate topics.
Having worked for years on campaigns to protect endangered animals worldwide, the World Animal Protection marketing team had a pretty clear idea on how to handle sensitive topics.

Thanks to the collaboration with them, we managed to avoid some tricky traps along the path of deciding how to show the distress of elephants held captive and abused in the tourism / entertainment industry. You can check out the final result here and here are the five lessons learned while working for this noble cause.

1.THE GRAPHIC IMAGERY TRAP
When working on a campaign focused on sensitive topic there’s always the “shock card” that can be played: show graphical images to get an immediate emotional reaction from the audience.

This technique can be, however, a double-edged sword. Regardless of how sensitive the audience can be towards the issue the campaign is trying to tackle, individuals can be so affected by graphical images that they might shy away from taking action. Everybody’s sensitivity is set on a different level and can result in an opposite reaction.

During our first brainstorming with the WAP team, we knew that scenes of direct violence on the elephants were to be avoided, favouring an approach that would focus on empathy and on visual and audio hints to imply violence, without showing it.

2.THE SPECIFICITY TRAP
The other issue related to the use of the “shock card” is related to the human tendency to establish a distance from images that depict an unhealthy situation.  That’s how we are biologically wired: we see disease and undesirable images and the immediate reaction is to start drawing an imaginary line between “us” and “them”. “This issue is happening in Africa, not in my country, why should I be concerned?” “What this condition does is terrible on a human level, but it will never affect MY family.” A little switch is activated in our brain that tries to put as much distance as possible between us and the problems that are posed in front of our eyes; it’s a short-term survival instinct “Get as far as you can from this issue, create some distance” is what the brain is suggesting us to do.

Leaving violence “out-of-the-picture” allows each viewer to apply his/her level of sensitivity and imagination to the story they’re watching. This approach has a very powerful reaction in the viewer’s mind: the violent or shocking activity implied and not shown is as strong as the audience can take.

Most Oscar Wilde critics agree that the first edition of Dorian Gray is the most intriguing compared to the following ones because Dorian’s malicious acts are not explained in details: he is as evil and corrupted as the readers wants him to be. Great cinema is full of brilliant examples of implied violence too. In “Sleepers”, Barry Levinson lets our imagination run wild while the camera slowly pans away from the reform school vault where the worst possible act of violence are taking place (check the scene out here).

This is why the animation team of Nucco Brain has deliberately left any violent act -like the shooting of the young elephant parents- to happen off-screen. We see the consequences of the violence, never the violence itself.

How to solve the possible issue of being over-specific? By stressing the attention on empathy, leveraging on the power of stylisation.

3. THE POWER OF STYLIZATION
By stylization, we mean a deliberate design choice to eliminate all unnecessary visual information that can divert the audience attention away from the key message we want to communicate.

Colette Collins, Deputy Director of Communications at World Animal Protectionputs it very clearly “We chose to tell our story through an animation to convey this complex issue in a simple way.”
The “simple way” she refers to is exactly what makes animation so powerful.

The Director of the film, Pedro Allevato, and his team used this technique to get the best possible result:  “We wanted to convey what actually happens to the elephants behind the curtains, without being specific or graphical about it. Therefore, we kept the baby elephant, after he was taken away from his mom, always under a spotlight, as if this was also part of the attraction. The theatrical film has strong resemblance to the old puppet shows, the use of silhouettes and watercolours transitions gives it a special melancholic feeling. This aesthetic approach, allowed us to be extremely expressive and sensitive and poetic with this story. And I hope it will touch the audience in the most deep way”

The WAP animated film is extremely expressive thanks to stylization: we focused on the main protagonist a female baby elephant and told her story in a powerful, stylised way, in which one scene is connected to the other by using emotional transitions that allow the audience to engage with a strong level of empathy. Stylised images are more powerful because they break the barrier of specificity and hit the chords of empathy.

4. EMPATHY ALWAYS WINS
There is a reason why animated films, comics and cartoons are the entertainment products that more easily spread across different markets. Think about how many anime and mangas are international successes against live-action Japanese films.

When you selectively take away specificity from an image through stylization, it becomes more universal. A stylised character is more similar to the idea that the viewer has of him/herself. By choosing which elements to stress on a character, a visual storyteller can make the content he is working on more or less broad in terms of empathy.

Think about the “smiley”, its simplicity enables it to depict virtually every face on Earth: two eyes and a mouth, everybody has them, we are the smiley. If you want to explore this concept further, Scott McCloud talk extensively about it on the 2nd chapter of “Understanding Comics”.

5. ANIMATION IS IMMEDIACY
As a marketer, brand manager or product owner, the need of creating a message that is straight to the point and effective in an era of super-quick interaction is paramount.

Animation and stylisation allow for that immediacy, together with an immediate visual association with branding visual guidelines

As Colette Collins from WAP puts it: “With this animation we can educate and open up the public’s eyes to the cruelty behind elephant riding, and to inspire them to be a part of the solution to help end the cruelty.”

The immediacy and iconic power of animation inspire empathy, the most powerful of human emotions, because it makes people care.

Stefano Marrone

MD of Nucco Brain, visual storytelling studio
www.nuccobrain.com
We tell stories. Your stories. Visually.

 

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Case Study: Nucco Brain and Mediacom Beyond Advertising come together to prescribe the cutest animation for GSK Piriton.

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

1. Introduction: Nucco Brain, Mediacom & GSK- The Piriton Allergy Relief Campaign

As one of the first projects for Mediacom Beyond Advertising, Nucco Brain were presented with an exciting brief for the client GSK and their well-known brand Piriton- An allergy and hay fever relief medicine.

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Coke and the revamp of classical animation: is 2D really the cool factor?

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

  THE COKE AD LOOKS COOL, UH?

The new campaign of Coke, featuring a lively dog and its not-so-lively owner is a celebration of the most Disneyesque style of animation (with an hint of the golden-age of Dreamworks too) by the amazing guys of  Psyop.
In fact, it seems so close to a nostalgic re-creation of Disney magic that one wonders why it was done by the outstanding studio Psyop rather than from the 2D production department of Burbank -oh, wait! Disney stopped doing 2D movies after “The Princess and the Frog”.

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The Anatomy of BBC Information Security Campaign | Posters by Nucco Brain

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Nucco Brain were given the opportunity for an internal BBC project to promote information security and to raise awareness of a number of technological threats such as identity theft, phishing emails, etc. throughout their work force.

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Nucco Brain & SOAS Bootcamp at Google Campus London – Let us tell our story

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Nucco Brain’s managing director Stefano was recently invited along to speak at the SOAS Boot Camp at Google Campus London.

The short talk looked to offer a real-life and relevant reality towards setting up a company, as well as important factors to consider in the process. 

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The Monster Inside of Nucco’s Brain: …Zomblaze- Deep Fall EP Promo

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

One of the first projects Nucco Brain was commissioned with was a one minute music video promo for Zomblaze, a Hungarian DJ/Producer between the lines of abstract, triphop and hardcore experimental vibes of music, and his new  EP Deep Fall. Nucco Brains’ Pedro, Stefano, Valentina and Vincenzo were the creative directors and artists in charge of thinking up and developing a fitting concept. With 100% creative control, the objective was to optimise absolute creativity and imagination on a quick and cost effective scale.

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Proudly presenting “Living with a Dragon”

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Nucco Brain and Book on a Tree are proud to present “Living with a Dragon”, an animated preschool series, based on the novel “A Dragon on my Couch” from the bestselling children’s book author Pierdomenico Baccalario.
The amusing and endearing adventures of Cora, a child who lives in a land (not so) far away, in a beautiful castle with her mum, The Princess, and an amazing step-dad, a lovely, funny and caring Dragon.

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